Spotlight COlorado  

Have You Met?

There’s a new girl in town, and she’s going to charm the pants off of you! Diane Wengler, best known as the society columnist for her “On the Town” column - formerly with the Colorado Springs Gazette - and now with the Colorado Springs Business Journal, just bought a new home in Denver. This svelte, sophisticated “blonde bombshell” is sure to captivate you with her elegance and class. Diane is thrilled about her new residency and says, “It’s fun being part of your wonderful city and getting to meet so many great people. I love all the different arts; Denver is such an exciting city full of energy and diversity.”

This Kansas-born gal is a woman of the world. Diane has had dozens of photos taken of herself with Presidents and other dignitaries who are either holding Diane’s hand or have their arm around her. Whether it’s George Bush in the photo – or Dick Cheney – they all project a sincere look of admiration and respect as to say, “we are proud to have our picture taken with this remarkable lady!” She’s done so much for numerous charitable causes; no wonder this spectacular woman is cherished by so many people in different walks of life.

Diane’s a role model for all women who wonder if you can forever stay beautiful, engaging, and effervescent! Diane gets stronger, wiser, savvier - and recharged with each new adventure in her life. As Diane observed, “The ceiling has been broken for women over 40. All barriers are just barriers of the mind – there’s nothing that a woman can’t do!”

(Diane's Community service work:  Member of the Air Force Academy Foundation Board, Penrose-St. Francis Health Foundation Board, Community Advisory Board of the Alzheimer’s Association, and Advisory Board of American Bank of Commerce (ABC Bank); former member of the Board of Directors of Prairie Capital Inc., the holding company for the 13 Prairie State Banks in Kansas; former President and Vice President of the El Paso County Bar Wives, and member of the Boards of Trustees of Community in Schools, CHINS UP Youth and Family Services, Junior League of Colorado Springs, the Virginia Neal Blue Women’s Resource Center, Performing Arts for Youth Organization, Colorado Spring Symphony Guild, School District 11 Volunteer Services, Colorado Springs Music Theatre, and National Association of Women Business Owners.

Awards/Recognitions: Deputy Chair of the Republican National Committee’s 2004 Presidential Gala in Washington, D.C.; Honored in 2004 as one of the founding members of the Women’s Resource Agency; Winner of the American Advertising Federation Gold and Silver Addys, the two top prizes for media self promotion during the Ad Federation’s District 12 Convention; Best of the West competition at a Western Regional Conference of the International Newspaper Promotion Association, two Certificates of Merit in the 100,000-200,000 circulation division for radio and television spots; Sweepstakes Award and eight other prizes in the Best of the Rockies six state advertising contest sponsored by Rocky Mountain Ad Managers; Listings in Who’s Who of American Women and Outstanding Young Women of America.)

What’s the best advice you have for someone who wants to become a journalist? Go to the best journalism school you can and build a freelance portfolio, even if you have to do the articles for free.

What three things are always in your refrigerator? Eggs, fat-free milk and English muffins.

What is your favorite place in your house? My back patio, with the garden, trees and view of the mountains.

If your house was up for sale, and a prospective buyer did a walk through, what would your home tell them about you? That I love family, friends and art.

What social or charitable event is your favorite? Memories in the Making, which benefits Alzheimer’s Disease. The incredible art is actually created by Alzheimer’s patients. You have a chance to celebrate the lives of these unique individuals living with memory loss and purchase of their poignant paintings.

My mother died of Alzheimer’s disease. She was smart, beautiful and loved adventure. It was a cruel fate for a woman so full of life and love.

What fundraising activities are you involved in at this time? I am a co-chair of the gubernatorial campaign of University of Denver President Marc Holtzman. I met Marc about three years ago at a fundraiser in Sanibel, Florida for Governor Owens. I was charmed by his intellect, kindness and desire to make a difference for others. We are very lucky he chose Colorado as his adopted home.

What do you think is the greatest problem our country is facing today? Coming together as a nation to solve the really important issues of our time, such as peace in the Mid East.

Who is your hero, and why? My great aunt, Stella B. “Aunt Tallie” Haines. She never married, yet had an incredibly full life as the first woman legislator in Kansas, first woman school board member and Republican candidate for Congress. She championed women’s rights and historical preservation. She was national President of the Daughters of the American Revolution and traveled the world as a single woman. She was a wonderful businesswoman and for a time, and oil and gas wildcatter. She died when I was 11. But I’ll never forget our wonderful conversations and her tremendous sense of humor. She lived life to the fullest.

Who is your mentor? I’ve been very lucky to have several. As a child, Aunt Tallie taught me that being a woman should never limit my horizons or dreams. In college, I took some undergraduate writing and editing classes from the Dean of the School of Journalism at KU, Calder Pickett. He offered me a fellowship in journalism and followed my career for many years. His sage advice was only a telephone call away.

As a journalist, the Publisher of the Colorado Springs Gazette, Roy Smith, was also an important mentor. Although I had no marketing experience, he convinced me I could be Marketing Director of the newspaper at an important time when it was in competition with the now defunct Colorado Springs Sun. When I bought my own business, a women-only health club, Roy continued to offer sound business advice. We are still dear friends.

Who is your favorite writer? Too many to pick a favorite. I love the pioneering styles of Hemingway and Faulkner as well as the dish of Dominick Dunne.

What is your favorite magazine? Vanity Fair. It’s writers spin wonderful tales of old Hollywood, current affairs and personality profiles. Its arrival signals a delicious evening.

What is your favorite television show? Anything news.

What is your favorite restaurant? Walter’s Bistro in Colorado Springs.

What is a favorite childhood memory? I loved riding with my father on our horses at a country place we owned in the sand hills near Hutchinson, Kansas. I also loved the many travels as a family, with my first trip to Europe when I was only five.

What will we find you doing on one of your days off? Days off? Since I am self-employed, I don’t really have days off. It’s more of a hiatus between projects. I love to travel, see the theatre, and be with my family and friends.

What do you do to “decompress” after a stressful day? Meet a friend for a glass of wine and fun conversation. Or if it has been really stressful, taking a hot bath and being alone renews me.

When you were a little girl, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? I knew I wanted to be a mother with my own children. But I also knew I wanted a career in writing. My contemporaries loved Batman and Robin; but I adored Brenda Starr.

What is a moment in your life you will never forget? Of course, the births of my two children, Christine and Brian. That joy was re-lived when I had the privilege of being with my daughter and son-in-law at the births of my grandchildren, Ashley Diane and Trevor Glader, now two years and two months old respectively.

What do you most value in your friends? Integrity, loyalty and intelligence. Your friends are the family you can choose.

What is one thing nobody knows about you? That I am basically an introvert. Most writers are. We teach ourselves to be extroverted.

What do you like most about yourself? I’m not afraid to reinvent myself (career wise) and do so every few years.

What do you like least about yourself? I take on too many projects.

What makes you laugh? Wonderful conversation with friends; well-written dialogue in books or movies; self-deprecating humor.

What makes you cry? The tsunami and events of 9/11 were almost unbearable to watch.

What is your greatest indulgence? Wonderful trips, both abroad and in our own incredible country.

What do you consider your proudest achievement? I’m proud of my children. But the achievement is all theirs.

Which of your projects have you found particularly challenging? When I was Marketing Director of the Gazette, I was asked to design and implement a Christmas promotion for the needy. My staff and I designed the “Empty Stocking Fund” in the mid-80’s. The program has continued each holiday season, now raising almost a million dollars for those in need during the holidays.

What is your advice for a happy marriage? Fall in love with your best friend.

What is your pet peeve? People who don’t tell the truth.

What do you consider the lowest depth of human misery? Probably depression because of its hopelessness.

What are your hobbies or other interests? The theatre, a good movie, walks in the mountains, working out. And I’ve vowed to improve my golf game.

Who is the most interesting celebrity you’ve ever met? Mamie Eisenhower. I interviewed her in Abilene, Kansas at the first anniversary of the death of President Eisenhower. The President’s mistress had just written a book about their affair during World War II, yet her dignity was intact. Mrs. Eisenhower was supportive of women’s rights, yet respected the traditional role she had chosen as wife, mother and First Lady. She seemed to have few regrets. She was very warm and held my left hand as I interviewed her. Although I am left-handed, I struggled to write my notes with my right hand rather than break the bond.

What is your personal motto - or favorite quote? Attitude is everything. You can see the glass as half empty or half full.

Is there somewhere other than Denver you would like to live? Maybe someday? Denver is pretty terrific. But it would be fun to live in a foreign country for a year.

Who is the real Diane Wengler? A work in progress.

What is something you would still like to learn to do – like play an instrument, learn a certain language – skydive? I’d like to learn to play the piano. I took lessons as a child, but at the time was much more interested in dancing. My sister plays beautifully. I wish she were here to teach me.

What’s in the future for Diane Wengler? I don’t really know. So much of my life has been changed by unexpected opportunity, pure serendipity. The only thing you can count on is change. Every day is different.